Felipe Fernández-Armesto praises clannishness in a review of The Rule of the Clan by Mark S. Weiner in the WSJ.
The author musters a wide range of case studies of clannish behavior, from ancient Arabia, through medieval Iceland and traditional Scotland, to Wagner’s Nibelungen, Arafat’s Palestine, and the North Korea of Kim Jong Il.
I am reading the book now. Fernández-Armesto, a world historian with a strong multiculturalist bent, fails to mention that Weiner actually has interesting things to say about clannishness in more strategic places like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Weiner aims to alert liberals to some of the problems of clannishness, from honour killing to feuding to Islamic fundamentalism. But Fernández-Armesto sees nothing to worry about. In fact, he likes clannishness.
All vertical structures, from clans to churches, that clasp, in a single embrace, people from contrasting and potentially warring economic strata will help us perpetuate stability and avoid the tumbrils.
No. Some associations are voluntary (civil society) and others are not (clans). The former are sources of liberty and the latter are not. That is the essential difference.
Fernández-Armesto’s multiculturalism blinds him to the ways that societies with a history of weak lineages and less clannishness (much of Europe, also Japan) became far more successful. I have no objection to clannish societies retaining the rule of the clan. But I do object to the multiculturalist idea that a dose of clannishness would help us in the West in any way.